Catalyzing Fans

41 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2015  

Dan Markel

Florida State University College of Law (Deceased)

Michael McCann

University of New Hampshire School of Law; Sports Illustrated and; Mississippi College School of Law

Howard Wasserman

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 15, 2015


For which team should basketball superstar LeBron James play? Where should celebrity statistician Nate Silver ply his craft of predictive wizardry? On which network should Jon Stewart flash his mordant wit?

For some reason, the answers to these disparate questions are only indirectly related to the desires of third-party fans. Indeed, it’s a puzzle that fans don’t already have more influence on the recruitment or retention of their sports or entertainment heroes (“talent”).

This paper proposes the development of Fan Action Committees (“FACs”), which, like their political counterpart ("PACs"), could mobilize and empower fans to play a larger role in the decision-making associated with which “production teams” the talent will work. We outline two institutional options: FACs could directly compensate talent by crowdfunding, or they could make donations to charities favored by talent. We then discuss both obstacles and objections from a variety of policy and legal perspectives ranging from competitive balance to distributive justice. Finally, we consider possible extensions of the FAC model as well as offer some ruminations on why FACs haven’t already developed.

Importantly, FACs create the potential for more efficient valuations of talent by registering not only the number of fans but also the intensity of their preferences. This insight, which stresses the upside of price discrimination, has relevance for a wide range of human endeavor where bilateral contracts have third party externalities that are not currently calibrated or adequately valued.

Suggested Citation

Markel, Dan and McCann, Michael and Wasserman, Howard, Catalyzing Fans (July 15, 2015). 6 Harv. J. Sports & Ent. L. 1 (2015); Florida International University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-21. Available at SSRN:

Dan Markel

Florida State University College of Law (Deceased)

Michael A. McCann

University of New Hampshire School of Law ( email )

Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property
2 White Street
Concord, NH 03301
603.513.5254 (Phone)


Sports Illustrated and

1271 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
United States


Mississippi College School of Law

151 East Griffith Street
Jackson, MS 39157


Howard Wasserman (Contact Author)

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law ( email )

University Park, DB 2065
Miami, FL 33199
United States
305-348-7482 (Phone)

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